Director Ravikanth Perepu, who has co-written this film with his leading man Siddhu Jonnalagadda, borrows names from mythology for his key characters and narrates a contemporary romance drama in which ex-girlfriends/boyfriends are mentioned with an air of casualness, while new bonds are forged.
After his directorial debut Kshanam (2016), Ravikanth negotiates a new, tricky territory. Had the characterisation of Krishna faltered, he could come off as a cold Casanova.
Krishna (Siddhu) is an incurable romantic and the two women in his life are Sathya (Shraddha Srinath, as Sathyabhama) and Radha (Shalini Vadnikatti). The third crucial woman in this drama is Rukhsar (Seerat Kapoor), who can be perceived as a parallel to Rukmini. She watches the romance between Krishna, Sathya and Radha from the outside and is bemused.
In the opening portions, Krishna is somewhere in Ladakh, a place where most filmi heroes go when they suffer a break-up or, in this case, confused in love. Krishna begins to share his predicament and urges us, viewers, not to laugh at his plight. But that’s what I ended up doing, as his relationship travails unfold. His first love (as we get to know Krishna, it seems unlikely that he didn’t fall in love earlier in high school) is on the college campus. Sathya is senior to him; before we know the sweeter details of their romance, we learn that she has decided to move away, wanting some breathing space from the man-child whom she finds too clingy. She tells him that he needs to grow up.
Sathya moves to Bengaluru for work, and Krishna broods. But not for long. He chances upon Radha and instead of singing ‘Mustafa mustafa’ during the college farewell, croons ‘Kundanappu bomma’ from Ye Maya Chesave !
Radha is aware of Sathya and the break-up and doesn’t give it much thought until Krishna too lands a job in Bengaluru. The strains of the long distance bond notwithstanding, the happenstance meetings between Krishna and Sathya brings to fore Radha’s insecurities.
Ravikanth shows how Krishna and Sathya think they have grown up since college days. She apologises for the hurtful break-up. Krishna realises that he’s an indecisive romantic and hasn’t really moved on from Sathya. And has she?
The one who has the last laugh watching this muddle is Rukhsar (Seerat Kapoor), owner of a resto-bar and a co-inhabitant of the apartment with Krishna and his younger sister. No prizes for guessing that Krishna is attracted to her as well.
Sricharan Pakala’s music score is mirthful and mischievous, elevating the fun drama. The classical strain of ‘Alaipayuthey kanna’ is invoked at an appropriate moment, amplifying Krishna’s wavering thoughts.
The meet-cute portions and Krishna’s wavering romance lead to hilarious moments until things take a serious turn. Krishna doesn’t really deserve to be let off the hook, and the explanation of why he’s made that way is a weak one. The brief conversation with his father, played by Sampath Raj, tries to put things in context. It brings back the question of whether upbringing doesn’t matter at all, if the two-timing trait can be blamed squarely on the genes. Jhansi is impressive in her brief role as his mother.
The women aren’t presented as pushovers and they certainly deserve better men.
I can’t think of a better portrayal from Siddhu in recent years and the women, especially Shraddha and Shalini, put in effective performances. Seerat plays the quintessentially cool part with élan.
So far, the direct OTT Telugu film releases haven’t given reason to cheer, to put it mildly. Krishna and his Leela is the first one to change that scenario. By the way, there’s scope for more drama going by the open end. Talking of the end, in an unexpected manner it also reminded me of World Famous Lover . That film was a missed opportunity while this one is fairly entertaining, though I wish it hadn’t made two-timing appear cool.
Krishna and his Leela is currently streaming on Netflix